2016 February: Climb Mt Touwouwan and Pagoda Lookout at Dunns Swamp, Wollemi National Park, NSW, Australia
Despite having lived in Sydney for so long, I've never heard of Dunns Swamp ... until one day, the All Nations Bushwalking Club came back from there and raved about how interesting the place is. So DH and I went there to check it out.
Well, we are not disappointed. It is indeed a wonderful place. And many other people think so too ... because we leave Sydney on a Saturday morning at 6am, arrive at 10am, and the camping area, with 80 campsites, is already chock-a-block full of campers. Had we arrive a bit later, there may not be any room for us. Most of people are here to spend a weekend relaxing around. Only one in a million will climb Mt Touwouwan :-)
Quoting from NSW National Parks website:
"Dunns swamp, or Ganguddy as it is known to local Wiradjuri Aboriginal people, is a beautiful, serene waterway on the Cudgegong river, created when Kandos weir was built in the late 1920s.
It is a perfect place for a range of recreational activities, from birdwatching and fishing to canoeing and swimming. You’ll also find a network of easy walks offering expansive views over the Cudgegong river and Wollemi National Park.
This idyllic setting is great for a family camping trip, car-based and small-caravan camping and, with wood barbecues on-site; you can hook dinner and cook up a camping feast ..."
Camping fee as at 2016-02 is $6 per adult, $3.50 per children ... self-registration, so you would need to bring the correct change.
1010 meters is the height shown on the LPI map.
It is not hard to climb Mt Touwouwan for the seasoned bushwalkers. But it would be a struggle for most of the weekend campers that filled up the Dunns Swamp camping area as it is bushbashing all the way to the summit.
This blog maybe the first publicly accessible account on climbing up this mountain as I am unable to find any useful information on the internet about it.
LPI 1:100,000 scaled 8932 Mount Pomany
LPI 1:25,000 scaled 8932-3N Olinda
Below is the relevant part of the 1:25,000 scaled map
GPS tracklog file & Route
The GPX tracklog file of our walk can be downloaded from:
Below is our route, red colour, anti-clockwise, superimposed on the 1:25,000 scaled map:
The satellite view of our route, anti-clockwise in red colour:
A summary of our route is:
- Start at Dunns Swamp Camping Area
- Walk along a tourist track towards the west to:
• Platypus Point
• Pagoda Lookout
• Kandos Weir
• Long Cave
- Cross Cudgegong River (200 meters from Long Cave)
- Bushbash up Mt Touwouwan
- Climb down the summit in the opposite direction to the way up
- Cross Cudgegong River (much further down stream then when we crossed it earlier on)
- Walk on firetrail hugging along Cudgegong River to return to camping area
Timeline & Distance
10:23 0.0 km Start at our camp site in Dunns Swamp camping area
10:34 0.3 km At picnic area by the side of Cudgegong River
10:47 1.0 km At junction to Pagoda Lookout
11:04 1.5 km At highest point of Pagoda Lookout
11:10 1.5 km Leave highest point of Pagoda Lookout
11:28 1.9 km At junction to Pagoda Lookout
11:48 2.8 km At Kandos Weir
12:11 3.6 km At Long Cave
12:15 3.8 km Start to go off track (so as to cross Cudgegong River)
12:33 4.3 km Stop for lunch
12:58 4.5 km Resume walking
14:09 5.8 km At Mt Touwouwan summit
14:20 5.9 km Leave summit
14:28 6.0 km At lookout north west of summit
14:29 6.0 km Resume walking
15:17 7.2 km Stop for afternoon tea
15:28 7.2 km Resume walking
16:27 8.6 km At north bank of Cudgegong River
Explore around; then take off shoes to cross the river
16:42 8.8 km At south bank of Cudgegong River
Dry feet and put on shoes
16:51 8.8 km Leave south bank of river
17:29 10.7 km At same spot as at noon 12:15 when we went off track so as to cross Cudgegong River
17:56 12.0 km At junction to Pagoda Lookout
18:15 13.0 km End at our campsite at Dunns Swamp camping area
Total: 7 hrs 52 mins at leisurely pace
13.0 km Distance is from Google Earth
15.3 km Distance is from Garmin GPS
Pictures - Dunns Swamp
Dunns Swamp is created by damming the Cudgegong River. On the way to climb Mt Touwouwan, we'll visit Kandos Weir where we can see the dam wall holding up the water.
1) From our camp site, the first stop is here at the main picnic/day-parking area of Dunns Swamp.
- This view is towards the west, actually from south-west to north-west.
- The red arrow points to Mt Touwouwan (towards north-west), our final destination for today.
2) Continuation to the right of previous pic, and towards the north ~~~
If walking is not your cup of tea, you can hire a kayak here to paddle around.
3) Not too far from the picnic area is a cave. A lucky group has grabbed it as their camp site.
4) We are now walking along the banks of Cudgegong River. Before we climb Mt Touwouwan, we'll make a detour to climb some of the pagodas in the red oval.
5) Walking further along the banks of Cudgegong River, we reach this place called Platypus Point.
- Towards north-west is Mt Touwouwan. The yellow arrows are how we'll climb it later on.
- The red oval is photo #9.
6) Interesting tessellated patterns at Platypus Point
7) Beautiful Dunns Swamp ~~~
- The red arrow points to Mt Touwouwan, towards north-west.
- Towards east is the main picnic/day-parking area, the red oval. Photos #1 and #2 were taken from there.
- The lower pic is zooming onto the right side of the upper pic.
8) Towards north-west is the left side of the panoramic photo #7.
- The lower pic is zooming into the middle of the upper pic
- The mountain in the background is Mt Touwouwan. The yellow arrows are how we'll climb it later on.
9) Still at Platypus Point ~~~
- The upper photo is taken now, in the morning. The lower photo is taken in the late afternoon.
- The larger mountain in the background is Mt Touwouwan.
10) We reach a junction.
- Straight ahead is where we want to go ... to Kandos Weir, Long Cave and Mt Touwouwan.
- But first, we make a detour to the left to take a look at the pagodas.
11) We are not disappointed ... this is an amazing place ... a maze of pagodas greets us.
We are aiming in the direction of the pagoda pointed to by the red arrow on the right side of this pic. That pagoda is constantly in view, like a beacon. If you aren't sure where you are, look for it to get your bearing.
12) Heading towards the centre of the maze ~~~
- The red arrow on the right and the red arrow of the previous pic point to the same pagoda.
- The red arrow on the left is the highest point of these pagodas; we are going there to climb it.
13) Venturing closer to the centre of the maze of pagodas ~~~
This scene is like a continuation to the right of the previous pic.
- The rock in the red oval is the round top rock of the previous pic. I'll climb it ... see photo #14.
- The red arrow here and the right red arrow of the previous pic point to the same pagoda.
14) I am standing on top of the rock in the red oval of the previous pic, and looking back at DH.
- The red arrow points to Mt Towinhingy. We'll climb it the next day.
15) From the pagodas, we have a very good view of the country side. Unfortunately the sky is clouded up. Otherwise, a blue sky reflected on the Cudgegong River would make this and other similar photos in this blog postcard beauties :-(
- This view is from north-west to north-east. The red arrow points to Mt Touwouwan, slightly to the west of north.
16) Towards the north and east, and continuation to the right of the previous pic ~~~
Again, this scene will be more beautiful if the water of the Cudgegong River is blue, reflecting the colour of the sky. Unfortunately, the sky is too cloudy right now :-(
17) Zooming in on the pagodas by the river bank of the previous pic
Pagoda Lookout - the gully
18) (We've walked to near the middle of photo #13.)
Here, we intend to cross the gully via the top of the rocks in the middle of the pic.
Pagoda Lookout - crossing the gully
19) Crossing the gully - it's the gully of the previous pic.
- The red arrow points to Mt Towinhingy.
- There is a face in this pic, can you see it?
20) Zooming into the face ... actually it looks like the Sphinx.
I keep on seeing faces in this trip. The other faces are in photos #67, #68 and #69.
- The red arrow is where DH was standing in photo #14.
21) Just like photo #19, we are still crossing the gully ~~~
Looking back at the wonderful pagodas:
- The red oval is the Sphinx like rock in the previous photo.
- The slanting red bar at bottom right hand corner is the gully in photos #18 and #19.
22) Still crossing the gully and panning across to the right of the previous pic is this pagoda, the highest pagoda around this area. It is our final destination of this detour; and it is also the pagoda pointed to by the left red arrow in photo #12.
Pagoda Lookout - highest pagoda
23) This is it ...
24) ... DH and I at the highest pagoda.
25) Scenery from the highest point ... from east to south-west ~~~
- The red arrow on the right side of the pic points to Mt Towinhingy, south-west-ish. We'll climb it the next day.
- The big pagoda near the centre-ish is the same as the one pointed to by the red arrow in photo #13. But compared to photo #13, we are viewing it from the opposite direction.
Descending Pagoda Lookout
26) Time to leave ~~~
This scene is the left side of the previous pic. We came up from this direction and we are exiting this way too.
27) Passing by this pagoda with lots of caves
28) A final look at Cudgegong River as we descend the pagodas
To Kandos Weir
29) Back on the main track to Kandos Weir and Long Cave ... passing by more pagoda-like rock formations, this one for example.
30) The track to Kandos Weir and Long Cave are meant for tourists, because ...
31) ... because of the beautiful scenery along the track.
32) Interesting cliff
33) We come to a lookout ... there is a chair in the red oval in the upper pic.
Inscription on a plate on the chair:
In memory of
John 'Nulla' Innes
6.7.1937 ~ 14.7.2013
"See you later old mate"
34) Wow ! It is a wonderful lookout ... magic beauty !
35) A chubby gum tree ... if you know its name, please let me know.
36) We reach Kandos Weir ... it is this dam that holds up the water to create the beautiful Dunns Swamp.
Next stop is to Long Cave.
37) This is it ... Long Cave
To Mt Touwouwan
38) 4 minutes, 200 meters later, we come to a junction.
This photo is looking backwards:
- The yellow arrows are where we come from and where we will go off-track to the left side of the photo ... to cross Cudgegong River then to climb Mt Touwouwan.
- The Blue arrows are for the return trip where we'll turn to the right side of the pic and take a different way back to the camping area.
39) This photo is continuation to the left of the previous pic.
We'll walk in the direction of the yellow arrow.
It looks like a track we'll be walking on ... but no, it is a small dry creek flowing towards Cudgegong River.
40) DH crossing Cudgegong River ~~~
The river is about 50 meters from the junction shown on photo #38.
Fortuitously, there is a tree fell across the river. Was it purposely fell that way to help us climbers?
41) After crossing Cudgegong River, it is bushbashing time ... not particularly difficult as the vegetation is not thick :-)
42) Mt Touwouwan is quite rocky ... we pass by plenty of rocks/cliffs.
43) Getting closer to Mt Touwouwan ~~~
There are plenty of pagodas on the slope of this mountain ... see the lower pic.
44) Just before the final ascent to Mt Touwouwan summit, there is a patch of clearing to cross.
45) Close to the top of Mt Touwouwan now ~~~
2 features of this mountain:
- Its top is covered with small yellow flowers ... see also photos #48 and #49.
- There are a lot of loose stones ... are they volcanic in origin?
46) These are the small yellow flowers that covers the top of the mountain. Does anyone know its name?
47) Closer to the top of Mt Touwouwan ~~~
The red arrow points to a small hill called Sheridan Hill. We'll climb it tomorrow afternoon.
48) On the final ridge to Mt Touwouwan ... Isn't the mass of small yellow flowers carpeting the top of this mountain beautiful !
- Upper pic: The summit of Mt Touwouwan
- Lower pic: Looking back down the ridge
Mt Touwouwan summit
49) Mt Touwouwan summit
50) DH and I at Mt Touwouwan summit 1010 meters
51) The view from the summit is superb. Here, we are looking from north-west to east.
- The yellow arrow on the right is how we climb up to the summit along the ridge.
52) In the opposite direction, towards the south is Mt Towinhingy, the red arrow. We'll climb it the next morning.
53) This photograph is taken at the summit ... some kind of fungus
54) Time to leave ~~~
We go down the mountain in the opposite direction to where we came from. There are plenty of these stone fields around the top of the mountain.
Lookout 150 meters north-west of Mt Touwouwan summit
55) We detour to a lookout, about 150 meters north-west of Mt Touwouwan Summit.
This scene is similar to photo #51.
Climb down Mt Touwouwan
56) Encountering more stone fields while climbing down the mountain
57) This scene is towards north-west. The horizontal valley across the middle of the pic is a different valley to those in Photos #51 and #55.
58) While having a break at a lookout for afternoon tea, I snap this photo ... from south-east to south-west.
- Red arrow points to Mt Towinhingy (south-ish) which we'll climb tomorrow morning.
- The yellow lines/arrow is how we'll get down the mountain.
- The blue arrow is how I had planned to climb down the mountain .... along the ridge. As we are short of time, hence we take the easier yellow route to return to the camping area. But one day, I like to repeat this trip and climb down the mountain via the ridge. Anyone wishing to join me?
- Another interesting idea is to climb down via the ridge running from left side to the centre of the pic ... because the pagoda-like rock formations in the blue oval look yummy :-)
59) Going further along ... this pic is sort of like the continuation to the right of the previous pic.
- Commentaries on the arrows are as per the previous pic.
- The lower pic is zooming onto the so-tempting-to-be-climbed pagodas in the middle of the upper pic.
60) We make a detour in the opposite direction to where we intend to go and come to a lookout with another magnificent view ... from south-east to south-west.
- The red arrow points to Mt Towinhingy (south-ish) which we'll climb tomorrow morning.
- The blue arrows are how I had planned to climb down the mountain ... first climb to the peak of a small hill (tip of the higher blue arrow), then go down in the direction opposite to where I'm now standing. But we are short of time, hence we'll drop down to the valley to the left of the blue arrows ... a quicker and easier way to return to the camping area. But one day, I like to repeat this trip and go via the blue arrows. Anyone wishing to join me?
61) The cliffs we pass by as we climb down the mountain ~~~
The photo on upper right hand side is the result of zooming into the red rectangle where there is a hole in the cliff.
62) We've just climbed down Mt Touwouwan, the mountain at the centre of the pic. (The summit is further back and can't be seen here.)
- The yellow arrow on the left side of the pic indicates how we climbed down the mountain.
Cross Cudgegong River
63) This building is right by the side of Cudgegong River. From afar, we thought it is a farm house. On closer inspection, it is a electrical substation. It is strange that a substation is built here, so far from civilization !
64) DH crossing Cudgegong River ... Unfortunately we have to get our feet wet :-(
Return to camping area
65) It is easy now ... on a well-maintained firetrail all the way back to the camping area.
66) We come to this shed with beds in the middle of nowhere. Strange !
67) Close by the shed is this big rock that looks like a toad !
68) The firetrail hugs the Cudgegong River and I keep seeing faces on the rocks by the river bank. For example, this face even has a tongue in its mouth.
69) And this one looks like a happy Buddha ... well, sort of :-)
The way back to the camping area is as described in photo #38 ... the blue arrows there.
Next day - Mt Towinhingy
We camp out at Dunns Swamp for the night. The next morning, we climb Mt Towinhingy and some of its pagodas. Photos and trip report are in my blog:
I like Dunns Swamp and the walk to Pagoda Lookout and the climb to Mt Touwouwan. As a rule, I don't repeat a trip ... but this one is worth repeating! Contact me if you wish to join in too.